Bungy jumps, skydives, human hamster wheels… New Zealand is the home of adrenalin adventures.
With most backpacker hop-on hop-off buses and group tours building in time on their itineraries for people to throw themselves off, at, or down stuff, there’s no escaping New Zealand’s love for adventure.
So get out of your comfort zone and into a dropzone by ticking off a few of these extreme sports.
In 1987, Kiwi AJ Hackett snuck up the Eiffel Tower and threw himself off. Giant pylon-inspired architecture isn’t for everyone.
The cord-bouncing daredevil then went on to illegally jump off even more buildings and bridges before finally going straight and setting up jump sites (plus canyon swings, ziprides and other stomach-dropping mischief) back home in New Zealand.
Where: Karawau, Nevis and The Ledge in Queenstown, and the Auckland Bridge Bungy. Best bit: The free upside-down hair rinse at the bottom, it adds extra bounce to your locks.
Speeding through narrow river canyons, 360° spins, screaming passengers… not a high-speed American car chase, but the world’s most famous jetboat ride.
Where: Shotover River, Queenstown. Best bit: Having your expletives drowned out by face fulls of water.
Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of sitting next to a screaming child and/or the flight has run out of gin, will know all about wanting to throw themselves out of a plane.
Where: Auckland, Taupo, Wanaka or Queenstown. Best bit: Being strapped to an instructor.
There’s only one thing better than rolling down a 350-metre hill in a giant inflatable ball. Filling that giant inflatable ball with water.
Where: Rotorua. Best bit: Being a bit of an animal – even if it is just a hamster.
Some of the greatest and most scenic rafting in the world, they call it white because that’s generally the colour of your face. Things rapid-ly get better though, usually when you stop for lunch.
Where: Queenstown and Rotorua. Best bit: When your guide tells you it’s their first day on the job, LOL.
The hipsters of the rafting world (it’s all about the underground scene), this is like regular rafting, only along subterranean rivers, caves and waterfalls.
Where: Waitomo Caves. Best bit: Finding out that glow worms live in cities.
Jacques Cousteau, the undisputed champion of underwater wandering, rated Poor Knights Island as one of the best dives in the world. The sea-battered volcanoes are now a web of cliffs and tunnels; home to sponge gardens, psychedelic marine life, stingrays and the world’s largest sea cave.
Where: Poor Knights Island, North Island. Best bit: Breathing underwater.
Coastal tracks, mountain passes and stunning lakesides – this scenery never gets tyre-ing. Head out on iconic day rides, such as the Otago Central Rail Trail or Te Anau to Manapouri, or go full pelt and ride from Auckland to Wellington, or Christchurch to Queenstown with an organised group tour.
Where: Wherever the wheels are, there’ll be a way. Best bit: Padded shorts. Otherwise, it’s just a bit of a bummer.
Skiing and boarding
World-famous for its skiing, you wouldn’t be board on either of New Zealand’s islands. However, you can’t beat the Southern Alps on the South Island. Easy access to four ski fields – Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone – plus great bars to get piste in afterwards.
Where: Wanaka or Queenstown. Best bit: The pizza at Winnie’s in Queenstown afterwards.
Raglan is not only a barrel of laughs (surfer joke), but it also has the longest and most consistent left-hand break in the world. If caught, a pro surfer could ride it for 2km. If you’re a beginner, maybe wait until you’ve got the hang (ten) of things a bit first.
Where: Raglan, North Island. Best bit: It’s all pretty swell.
Ready to head off on an adventure in New Zealand à la Bilbo Baggins (minus the creepy Orcs and the endless war)? Check out our New Zealand travel guide, which has loads of handy info, plus deals across flights, tours, flexible bus passes and campervans.